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Thread: Handwriting analysis
May 30, 2015, 10:38 am, Sat May 30 10:38:32 UTC 2015 #85
Five point scale for handwriting analysis
1. Conclusive evidence that both are written by the same person
2. Supporting (strong) evidence that they are by the same hand but the possibility of different individuals cannot be ruled out
3. Inconclusive because of equivalent similarities and differences or lack of evidence to work on
4. Supporting evidence that different individuals wrote both the specimen and the questioned writing but the possibility of both being by the same hand cannot be ruled out
5. Conclusive evidence that different individuals were responsible for the specimen and questioned documents
From Lou Smit's deposition we have this verbal description of the handwriting experts' results. Smit's quoting them so I'm going to assume he's accurate:
SMIT: "Chet Ubowski, his results -- and this is a very brief rendition of his results. There were indications that Patsy Ramsey wrote the note. There is evidence which indicates that the ransom note may have been written by Patsy Ramsey. But the evidence falls short of that necessary to support a definite conclusion.
Leonard Speckin, he is a police expert, private forensic document analyst. 'Lack of indications. I can find no evidence that Patsy Ramsey disguised her handwriting exemplars. When I compared the handprinting habits of Patsy Ramsey with those presented in the questioned ransom note, there exists agreement to the extent that some of her individual letter formations and letter combinations do appear in the ransom note. When this agreement is weighed against the number, type, and consistencies of the differences present, I am unable to identify Patsy Ramsey as the author of the questioned ransom note with any degree of certainty. I am, however, unable to eliminate her as the author.'
Edwin Alford, Jr. 'Lack of indications. Examination of the questioned handwriting and comparison of the handwriting specimens submitted has failed to provide a basis for identifying Patsy Ramsey as the writer of the letter.'
Lloyd Cunningham, Ramsey expert, he is the one that certified Chet Ubowski. 'Lack of indications,' that he cannot identify or eliminate Patsy Ramsey as the author of the ransom note. And he has spent 20 hours examining the samples and documents and has found that there were no significant individual characteristics but much significant difference between Patsy's writing and the note.
Richard Dusick, he is the analyst for the United States Secret Service. These are the results of his specific report. 'Lack of indications. A study and comparison of the questioned and specimen writings submitted has resulted in the conclusion that there is no evidence to indicate that Patsy Ramsey executed any of the questioned material appearing on the ransom note.'
Howard Ryle [sic], the former CBI examiner,'probably not.' His opinion in this case is between 'probably not' and 'elimination,' elimination as Patsy Ramsey as the author of the ransom note. He believes that the writer could be identified if historical writings were found.
The results, the general consensus is inconclusive and below that Patsy wrote the note."
Using the description given above, I rate the experts' opinions numerically using the 5 point scale like so:
The majority are "no conclusion," i.e., "inconclusive" as Smit himself says. Maintaining that the experts' opinions could be "collectively described" as 4.5 is simply perverse. When Hunter was asked about "4.5," he said that he remembered it more as being "4," presumably because the 3s can be bumped to 4s. But Speckin is a solid 3 while Alford and Dusick can only, in my opinion, be stretched to 3.5.
March 14, 2017, 7:41 pm, Tue Mar 14 19:41:01 UTC 2017 #86
Aha, I thinkI think I know where "Patsy scored 4.5 out of 5 with 5 being elimination" comes from. In Hunter's deposition he's asked by Lin Wood about a Ramsey-lawyer arranged meeting between the DA and the Ramsey handwriting experts, Cunningham and Rile/Ryle. Wood says that they used a scale of five for purposes of their discussion, though it wasn't necessarily an "agreed upon" scale. Hunter remembered Patsy coming up a 4.
I can't tell if there were any other handwriting experts there. (I suspect not.) It would make sense that these two experts would rate Patsy as 4/4.5, judging by excerpts from their reports as divulged by Lou Smit in his deposition.
Last edited by fr brown; March 14, 2017, 11:26 pm at Tue Mar 14 23:26:19 UTC 2017. Reason: typo
March 14, 2017, 11:39 pm, Tue Mar 14 23:39:01 UTC 2017 #87I looked in Paula Woodward's book to see if I could find out more about this meeting. She says that in May 1997 the Ramsey handwriting experts, Rile and Cunningham, gave a presentation to the DA and the police department to explain why Patsy wasn't the author of the note. This is the meeting in which Lin Wood says a "not agreed upon" 5 scale was used for purposes of discussion instead of the standard 9 scale. I'm not sure why if everybody in the room could count to 9. I don't think the Ramsey experts used a 5 scale in their reports. Cina Wong said that she was asked recently (by ABC, I think) about Patsy's statement that she scored 4.5 out of 5. Wong replied that a 5 scale was not in use. Since Wong has both of the Ramsey experts' reports, I would expect she would know if a 5 scale was used in them.
When we hear "4.5 out of 5" I think we can assume that only the opinions of the two Ramsey experts are being represented.
March 17, 2017, 1:41 pm, Fri Mar 17 13:41:37 UTC 2017 #88In Forensics Under Fire the author says that Rile's appearance before Michael Kane and the grand jury was a "nightmare" that left Rile stunned and shaken. He asked for a do-over but was denied. The book is blatantly biased toward the Ramsey side so an anecdote that shows any of them in other than the best light has a good chance of having validity.
In the past I've thought that Ubowski rated Patsy pretty close to identification. I've come to think, however, that he might have been more conservative than that in his report. His report is quoted by Lou Smit as saying that there are "indications" that Patsy wrote the note. The choice of language is undoubtedly important. "Indications did write" is one of the rungs of the nine scale. If 1 is identification and 9 is elimination, "indications did write" would be 4.
If Rile and Cunningham came into their presentation talking about 4s and 4.5s on a scale of 5, it might not be clear to their listeners that they were using a different scale, that their 4 was different from the 4s of other experts.
Last edited by fr brown; March 17, 2017, 1:43 pm at Fri Mar 17 13:43:06 UTC 2017. Reason: typo
March 18, 2017, 6:10 pm, Sat Mar 18 18:10:58 UTC 2017 #89Maybe we need to factor in when the JonBenet handwriting analyses were taking place. From Scientific Examination of Questioned Documents by Kelly and Lindblom:
"In 1995, the ASTM E30.02 Questioned Document Subcommittee drafted and passed as standard terminology E1658,'Standard Terminology for Expressing Conclusions of Forensic Document Examiners,' based on that Journal of Forensic Science letter. Included in the original standard is a suggestion that it may also be used in examinations other than handwriting and that there is no requirement of a document examiner to use all of the levels of opinion. It is recognized that some laboratories use five or seven levels, typically omitting the 'indications' or 'probably' terms. "
So it looks like things might not have completely settled down in the handwriting examiner world in 1997. Eliminating the "should have knowns," the fundamental problem of different scales remains. You can't simply say it's 60 degrees outside if everybody assumes you're talking Fahrenheit (if you mean Celsius). Big difference there.
By the same token, Ubowski's "There were indications that Patsy Ramsey wrote the note. There is evidence which indicates that the ransom note may have been written by Patsy Ramsey...." and Cunningham's "Lack of Indications....there were no significant individual characteristics...between Patsy's writing and the note" shouldn't both be 4s on the same scale.
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